What Makes Us More Than Shallow?

We live with privilege. We live in a developed country, have comfortable jobs, and leisure time, something that many in developing countries may never have.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been reflecting on a variety of things. We’ve recently seen many friends deeply touched by sadness, sorrow, and loss. Yet still, all around us there seems to be so much frivolity and shallowness.

Part of it is probably due to the very comfort in which we live our lives. I’m not unhappy about leisure time, or a killjoy, or someone who doesn’t enjoy fun at all. I love all of those things. (Let’s face it, I write speculative fiction stories, have just spent six months helping to put on a musical, and have spent the afternoon at a Gilbert and Sullivan concert.)

But sometimes I’m dismayed by what I see around me, and what is portrayed as being important, over what is actually important.

When you see friends and family deal with devastating loss, then conversations about the latest technical gadgets, or the latest TV show, or see that the most prominent figures in our media are famous for…being famous, (this is something I’ve never really understood), it seems as if there’s something seriously wrong with some of our priorities.

I do understand that life goes on, and I understand that not everyone is always experiencing a life shattering event, but sometimes I think we could pay a lot more attention to the people who matter to us. Or on making a difference (a positive difference) in peoples’ lives.

When our media holds up people whose only purpose in life seems to be to make trouble, or look a certain way, then I wonder what’s going on in our world to drive this kind of shallowness.

I was working my way through my emails this week with the television on in the background. Halfway through I realised The Bachelor was on. To my shame, I watched, with a sort of horrified fascination, as a variety of women competed to ‘win’ the Bachelor. There were a lot of comments about ‘winning’ and ‘getting time’ with said Bachelor.

In real life, most relationships develop slowly, over time, and involve shared interests, care, and more than (what appeared to be) a few moments at a cocktail party wearing carefully chosen outfits.

I mean, how real can any of that actually be? Sure, at least to start with, sometimes we’re on our best behaviour with a potential other half. (Mind you, in our case, there were no illusions about looks, since we met as volunteer firefighters, and had done multiple calls in the middle of the night, which generally ended up with everyone filthy, exhausted, and stinking of smoke.)

I was chatting with a friend this week who’d just come back from overseas. It was fascinating to hear her describe the photographic antics of what I can only assume were instagram ‘influencers’ or similar. It was summer in the northern hemisphere when my friend was travelling, which meant there were crowds a lot of the time. But apparently when some people have to pose in about twenty different ways at every monument or view site, it means that the queues are even worse. (My friend did an amazingly hilarious demonstration of hair flicking, pouty lips and seductive poses, to demonstrate what went on, to the delight of myself and another friend.) There was a lot of frustration in the conversation, though, and rightly so to my way of thinking, as most of us aren’t paid to have holidays.

I wasn’t aware of instagram influencers until recently. Apparently Australia’s top 20 or so are all women, most apparently wearing bikinis.

I had a quick flick through, and it was clear these photos weren’t your average happy snap, but posed, brushed, and tweaked instead, with product mentions in the bylines. I do have an instagram account but most of the time I forget I have it. (In retrospect, I should have done the Yum Yum song in the bath tub….any soap sponsors out there?)

But seriously, there’s so much more to life than manicured photographs, or television that only panders to narcissism or self interest.

When I think back, many of the best moments of life have no record except that inside my memory, or even deeper, inside my heart. They involve family, friends, laughing, crying, and feeling deeply. They’re treasured, and there probably wasn’t a camera involved anywhere, unless by chance.

Do yourselves a favour. Live life in the present. Feel deeply. Spend time with those you love.

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